SAN DIEGO (AP) -Johan Santana decided it was time to take matters into his own hands.
He not only pitched a strong game, but the light-hitting pitcher also contributed with his bat.
Santana threw eight solid innings and tied his career high with two hits and an RBI as the New York Mets avoided a four-game sweep with a 5-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
``It was just one of the days where everything went right,' Santana said. ``I knew the importance of this game so I was trying to step it up and do my job. I was just lucky, I guess, at the plate. Any time you have a chance to do something like that it's very special.'
Santana (13-8) limited the Padres to one run and five hits as New York won for only the third time in 11 games.
``I knew coming into this game that it was a very important one because of losing three games in a row,' Santana said. ``We went through the same thing last year here, losing four games in a row. We knew that somehow we had to stop that. We made it happen.'
The win snapped the Mets' eight-game losing streak at Petco Park and was just their third win against San Diego in 15 games.
Santana also pulled into a tie for the major league lead in wins with Adam Wainwright of St. Louis and Boston's Josh Beckett.
``Johan is a tremendous competitor and every time when he gets the ball, he gets everybody involved,' Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. ``They respond to him. ... He comes to perform.'
Santana helped himself as he singled twice, drove in one run, scored a run and had one walk. Santana was hitting .114 (four for 35) with three RBIs coming into the game.
``I think that was too much Santana,' said Padres manager Bud Black.
``You've been hearing all year that he's been struggling - for his standards,' said San Diego's Tony Gwynn. ``But it certainly didn't seem like that today.'
Tim Stauffer (1-4) took the loss despite allowing one run on five hits in five innings. The right-hander struck out six with two walks.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched the ninth although it was not a save situation. The Mets' closer has struggled lately with five blown saves in his last 13 chances, including Friday night when he gave up a grand slam to rookie Everth Cabrera in the ninth as the Padres scored five times for a 6-2 win.
``We just have to make sure that we pitch him on a regular basis,' said Manuel, who believes that part of Rodriguez's problems have been inactivity.
``I was trying to be more aggressive and get strike one,' said Rodriguez, who has 24 saves. ``Any time you put a zero on the board, it's huge. It's a good step.'
Jeff Francoeur led off the New York sixth with a single off Edward Mujica and advanced to second base on Omir Santos' two-out single. After Anderson Hernandez struck out, Santana lifted a fly ball to left-center field.
Chase Headley and Tony Gwynn both dove for the ball but Gwynn was unable to hang on. Santana's RBI single put the Mets up 2-0. Angel Pagan then lined a ball off the glove of second baseman Oscar Salazar for an error that allowed two more runs to score.
New York went ahead 1-0 in the second inning on Hernandez's RBI single that scored Francoeur, who led off with a single and advanced to second on a groundout.
Daniel Murphy singled in a run in the ninth inning to put the Mets ahead 5-1.
The Padres reached Santana for their only run on a two-out double by Kevin Kouzmanoff in the sixth inning and Headley's RBI single.
Santana ran his record 3-1 since the All-Star break. The left-hander is 61-18 during his career after the All-Star break.
Home plate umpire Randy Marsh left the game in the fifth after taking a foul ball off his face mask.
The foul tip off the bat of Padres pinch hitter Luis Rodriguez knocked off Marsh's face mask. The ball appeared to jar Marsh, who staggered to the side before Mets catcher Santos reached back and grabbed him by the arm.
There was a 13-minute delay before play resumed again with the remaining three umpires.
NOTES: New York's Luis Castillo went 2 for 5 in his first game back in the starting lineup since he suffered a sprained left ankle on Tuesday night. ... The Padres plan to give extra rest to rookie RHP Mat Latos, who will be pushed back one day in the rotation. Latos, who will pitch Friday at St. Louis, has already thrown 102 innings this season combined between two minor league stops and with San Diego. That total is almost double the amount he has thrown in any of his first two professional seasons.
The Associated Press News Service
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